The atmosphere inside the room suddenly sank into awkwardness. He Feizhou knew what was going on, and quickly started to meditate: “Brother Meng, you’re back! Today’s harvest isn’t small! Let me introduce you. Shen Mu, this is the boss of our dormitory. Brother Meng, Zhu Meng, the person is just like his name*, hei hei**, no matter where he is, ah. “
*T/N: his name, ‘Meng’, meaning ‘fierce’
**T/N: Chinese onomatopoeia. English equivalent: haha or hehe
Shen Mu noticed that Zhu Meng’s face, for a split second, became darker.
“Brother Meng, this is Shen Mu who was pushed into purgatory by Professor Niu …”
“Heng!”* Zhu Meng coldly huffed. Without waiting for He Feizhou to finish speaking, he strode to his desk and threw his bag on the table. With a loud ‘dong’ noise, the atmosphere suddenly dropped to freezing point.
*T/N: ‘heng!’, is most similar to ‘hmph!’
“Let’s learn how to imitate a groundhog’s cry……” At this moment, a strange ringtone suddenly sounded in the dormitory, breaking the awkward atmosphere.
“Wei?”* He Feizhou quickly picked up the phone, voice carrying a trace of relief, “Oh, go now? Okay, we’ll go over right away…… Ah, I know, how can we forget our top university student! …… Old Four ah, he’s not here. There’s something at home. …… He hasn’t returned yet, probably tomorrow. By the way, I told you before that we’d have a new member in our dormitory…… Yes, yes, Shen Mu. Here already, OK, I’ll see you later.”
*T/N: ‘Wei’ is a standard response to a phone call in China. It tells the caller that you are listening.
He hung up the phone. He Feizhou said to Zhu Meng, “Brother Meng, don’t study anymore, let’s go out together to eat!”
Zhu Meng placed the schoolbag on the table properly, without looking at He Feizhou or answering, he asked: “It’s Lu Ying?”
“Yes ah. Meng, aren’t you going? “He Feizhou wasn’t affected by Zhu Meng at all, smiling, he leaned over with his arms around Zhu Meng’s shoulders, “You were actually specially invited…”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t go.” Zhu Meng ended his focus on cleaning the table. Pushing He Feizhou aside, he pulled open the closet. “Go, go, don’t disturb your brother* when he’s changing clothes!”
*T/N: He is referring to himself in third person, a more ‘arrogant’ way of speaking
He Feizhou floated over to Shen Mu again: “Shen Mu, come with us as well! Today, Lu Ying, our class leader, is celebrating his birthday and has invited everyone from our dormitory.”
Although the first official round of the Suspended Life Game would begin today at 0:00, it was still too early for Shen Mu to do anything. Shen Mu was also fond of this sort of bustling atmosphere and craved increased contact with other students. Hesoon agreed: “Ok ah, are we going to go now?”
“Bang!” The sound of Zhu Meng harshly slamming the cabinet door came from behind.
He Feizhou sent Shen Mu a meaningful glance, signalling that Zhu Meng’s temperament was simply always like this and it wasn’t worth arguing with him. Shen Mu nodded with a slight smile, but before He Feizhou had even let out a breath, he suddenly opened his eyes.
Zhu Meng closed the cabinet door while grumbling. With sullen fire forcefully contained in his heart and the frustration brewed from his suppressed anger, he forcefully pulled out the stool. Yet, as he turned around, he found that Shen Mu was standing beside him. Suddenly, Zhu Meng felt a surge of anger rushing from head to toe, he was almost unable to restrain his temper.
“Hello Brother Meng! Nice to meet you, nice to meet you! I’m Shen Mu. In the future, everyone here is going to be roommates. To be in the same boat must be a result of the cultivated karma of a hundred years from our past lives. To stay in the same bedroom, it must be the cultivated karma of thousands of years from many past lives!”* Zhu Meng didn’t even have the time to flip out before Shen Mu’s tone suddenly became fervent, and, with sincerity in his eyes, he held Zhu Meng’s hand, talking in a friendly manner. Zhu Meng didn’t expect such a scene and blanked out for a moment. The deepening heat he felt from Shen Mu’s hand made Zhu Meng’s facial expression, which was maintained with difficulty, collapse completely. He pulled his hand free as though he was smashing something. After being stuck for a while and having finally digested what Shen Mu had said, Zhu Meng’s face couldn’t help darkening further: “You……”
*T/N: Meaning that only after accumulating karma, could they have the opportunity to meet.
It appeared as though Shen My had never been treated so rudely and hostilely before. Shen Mu rushed to give Zhu Meng a warm hug between brothers, “Brother Meng, you don’t need to be polite. Oh, that’s right. If you need help in the future, don’t hesitate to say. We still have to live together for two years ne*? Please don’t regard me as an outsider!”
*T/N: ‘ne?’is a rhetorical agreement, similar to ‘non?’ in French or ‘right?’ in English.
“Don’t touch me, roll away!”* Hearing the reminder that they had to love together for two years, Shen Mu’s already negative 1,000 points instantly became negative 2000 in Zhu Meng’s heart. He wanted to tear Shen Mu apart but Shen Mu had already rushed back to his own seat. Seeing Zhu Meng’s glare, he still amiably laughed.
*T/N: Roll away: Literally “roll away (for me)” / Get the hell out of here! / Get out of my sight / Piss off etc.
It was as though he didn’t feel Zhu Meng’s momentum who appeared like he was about to rush up and hit him.
“Oh, right,” He Feizhou pulled Shen Mu over. “Let me talk to you about our class teacher and classmates! Brother Meng, you slowly pack up while I talk to Shen Mu about the circumstances in our class as we walk. We’re leaving first then!” Saying that, he dragged Shen Mu out of the bedroom decisively.
Dusk arrived particularly early in the Northern winter. Although it was only five o’clock, only the last few rays of sunlight were left. The wind had also picked up, and a burst of cold air immediately greeted them as they stepped out of the dormitory. Outside was the frigid wind, inside was the flaming central heating. A mere door separated these two vastly different environments that echoed an otherworldly distinction.
“Let’s go, Mi La Restaurant is near Campus B so we can get there quicker via the underground passage, and if we walk fast, it only takes about 20 minutes.” This said, they set off. As they walked, He Feizhou introduced Shen Mu to the school layout and the events that had occured in class during his absence.
“The person who invited us to eat today, Lu Ying, is our class monitor. In our class 5 there are 31 people altogether, and, including you, we have 32. The ratio of male to female is almost 1: 1, hehe. I don’t know what sorcery this is, the ratio for the year above us is 7: 1.”
Then Shen Mu learned about the social activity task set for the summer vacation. The class was divided into 3 groups, with each group assigned to a different instructor. Two male dormitories: Lu Ying’s dormitory and Shen Mu’s dormitory; and another female dormitory just happened to be in a group together. With the passing of the summer vacation, a revolutionary friendship had developed among them. This time, Lu Ying specially invited their dormitory to celebrate her birthday, and even Zhu Meng, who wasn’t part of class 5, was invited.
“Brother Meng this person is actually a top student, it’s just that he has a slightly quick temper. Since everyone is going to live together in the future, we should mutually tolerate each other a little. Fourth brother is even more amazing, being the president of our Student Union and he’s the type of person that even though he’s very busy, he still manages to obtain the national scholarship year after year. His personality is a bit cold and he might not talk much, but he’s still a very good person…” As He Feizhou spoke, he saw that the corner of Shen Mu’s mouth became slightly raised, and asked in bewilderment, “What are you laughing at?”
“Nothing,” Although Shen Mu said ‘nothing’, his smile didn’t vanish. “I just think that you have a good relationship with lots of people.”
“Of course I do!” He Feizhou immediately patted his chest without a hint of shame.
The two chatted as they walked along. Although the weather was cold, time still passed quickly and in the blink of an eye they had already arrived at the Mi La Restaurant of Campus B.
The moment they walked into the Mi La Restaurant, it seemed as though they had returned to a warm haven. “Lan Cao Hall.” He Feizhou nodded towards the young lady at the reception.
“This way, the innermost room on the second floor.” The reception sister pointed with a smile.
On the second floor, the innermost large private room along the corridor was the Lan Cao Hall. Shen Mu noticed that this was a private room for more than 20 people, with two tables. A noisy clamour could be heard leaking from the interior, and it seemed that many people had already arrived. The two pushed the door open and entered. The students inside who were making the noise all turned their attention to the door. Seeing Shen Mu enter, the scene immediately hushed. A short-haired girl almost exclaimed in surprise, and seeing Shen Mu look towards her, she wasn’t shy in the least, smiling back at Shen Mu, before looking at the boy who was joking at the other table with an ambiguous expression. She looked back at Shen Mu again, an inexplicable ray of light flashing in her eyes.
Being watched directly like this, Shen Mu also followed her and turned his attention to that boy. The other person noticed Shen Mu looking at him. His gaze and Shen Mu’s met for a second, following which he continued to talk to the tall boy next to him as though he was completely aware that he’d just locked eyes with Shen Mu. Unknowingly, the room had become a lot quieter than before.
Shen Mu moved his gaze away from the boy and onto a girl sitting on his other side. Not knowing whether it was due to the lighting or because she’d put on too much liquid foundation, the girl’s complexion was unnaturally pale. Her two fishtail braids were obediently resting on her chest. When she met Shen Mu’s gaze, she finally responded, almost shouting out, “How come you are here!”
Shen Mu gave her a friendly smile: “Hi, classmate Lin, we meet again.”
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